The Bendigo Chamber Music Festival has been in existence for six years and has gained a high reputation. It combines a group of regular, founding musicians such as pianist Timothy Young and violinist Sophie Rowell, with national and international Australian guest artists. Several of the latter performed in the final Gala Concert on Saturday night (3 February), which I was able to enjoy via Australian Digital Concert Hall’s live stream.

The concert began with Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 11 in F, with Young at the piano. As with other of his early concertos, Mozart arranged a version for piano quintet, which is what we heard here. Chamber-sized forces brought a bright, youthful quality to the work, while Young’s pianism was expressive while retaining a classical polish and fluency, especially in the lovely slow movement.

Guest artist mezzo-soprano Ashlyn Tymms followed, with an earthy, full-toned performance of Manuel de Falla’s Seven Popular Spanish Songs. The incisive accompaniments were beautifully provided by renowned pianist Anna Goldsworthy. This was followed by a French ‘palate cleanser’: Jean Françaix’s witty Trio for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano. It was played with perky good humour by two other guest artists, oboist Armand Djikoloum and bassoonist Lyndon Watts, with Young again the pianist. At times, their performance elicited laughter from the appreciative crowd.

Armand Djikoloum. Photo supplied

The concert culminated in one of the masterpieces of the 19th century chamber repertoire, the Piano Quintet by Robert Schumann. Composed in his “chamber music year” of 1842, it is most notable for its slow movement, a funeral march led off by the viola (Tobias Breider).

Daniel de Borah. Photo supplied

The quintet paced this perfectly: solemn but not too drawn out, and urgent in the middle section. Throughout, their ensemble was razor-sharp in the expressive first movement, the energetic scherzo, and the long, Beethovenian finale. The fine pianist was Daniel de Borah. This was a fresh, heartfelt performance to crown the evening, and this year’s festival.

This concert from the Bendigo Chamber Music Festival is available to view at Australian Digital Concert Hall.

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